With a comic book series and her very own feature film “Barb Wire” enjoyed a short — but glorious — stint in the spotlight during the 1990s. The character, who debuted in an anthology published by an imprint of Dark Horse Comics in 1993, quickly gained notoriety thanks to a feature film starring Pamela Anderson. After its release in 1996, however, Barb Wire slowly faded into the background. By the end of the ’90s, the character had disappeared completely from the comic book landscape. Comic fans assumed they had seen the last of the blonde bombshell, but Dark Horse will change that this July with a revived ongoing series starring the bounty hunter.
Written by original creator Chris Warner, the new “Barb Wire” series features covers by Adam Hughes, pencils by Patrick Olliffe, inks by Tom Nguyen and colors by Gabe Eltaeb. Warner isn’t shying away from his lengthy history with Barb Wire and is eager to bring her out of the ’90s and into the modern comic book landscape. CBR News spoke with the creator about the bombshell bounty hunter’s new series, the book’s creative team and, of course, that movie.
CBR News: Barb Wire made her debut two decades ago yet she hasn’t made a significant appearance in 15 years. What makes now a good time to revisit the character?
Chris Warner: Well, July 2015 is the 80th anniversary of the installation of the world’s first parking meter, and July 1 — the debut issue’s on-sale date — is National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day, so the timing just seemed like destiny.
Why now? Why not? We’re trying to put the fun back in comics… which makes comfunics, I guess. A lot of mainstream comics are so papered over in continuity that no light can penetrate; they’re so deadly serious that they should be printed on hangman’s nooses. I’m trying to write a straightforward, entertaining book — with a little social satire thrown into the mix — that doesn’t require the Rosetta Stone to decipher. If you’ve read “Barb Wire” before, you’ll fall right in. And if you haven’t, you’ll have no trouble keeping up. If neither, I got nothin’.
What has changed in Barb’s world since we last saw her?
Barb’s home town, Steel Harbor, is still a rusting post-industrial wasteland dominated by powerful gangs, whether they be street crews led by chiefs with frightening superpowers or country-club crews helmed by the old money and influence of Castle Pointe. But some sunshine is finally falling on “Metal City.” The gangs are getting along and gentrification is causing rapid change to some of the surly old neighborhoods. “It’s a new day in Steel Harbor — watch the sun rise!” is the city’s new motto, and Barb is in consideration for a possible cable reality show. Things are looking pretty good. Translation: everything is about ready to go to hell.
Lately there’s been a lot of discussion about portrayal of female comics characters, particularly in regards to their sexual objectification. Where does this series fit into that conversation?
It doesn’t. Beyond looking good — like most title characters, male or female — the Barb Wire I’ve written has always been a sharp, self-reliant professional, and sexuality has been a pretty nonexistent factor. I’d be uncomfortable writing a woman character while projecting stereotypical male fantasies onto her. I like the character too much to treat her with disrespect. Personality-wise, Barb’s a mix of the kind of people I like to hang around with: smart, brash, funny, and formidable. The book is a fun, kickass comic book that has no pretensions of being anything but.
Over the past few years, Dark Horse has increased its superhero content with series like “Captain Midnight” and “Ghost.” Will we be seeing crossover with other characters from Dark Horse’s superhero line?
Could maybe, could maybe not. If we happen to cross paths with a crossover, so be it, but there is no elaborate master plan. I’m taking it one game at a time.
You have a 20-year history with this character, but the rest of the creative team is completely new to the property. What has it been like working with Patrick Olliffe, Tom Nguyen and Adam Hughes?
I’ve worked with Pat before, and he’s super-talented, totally reliable and a great guy. Plus, he’s really good at drawing female action characters, which is kinda mission critical. I’d kept in touch with Pat, and his schedule was opening up around the time we were looking to get “Barb Wire” rolling, so the stars aligned. I’d never worked with the rest of the team before, but Tom had inked Pat like a lord on “Catwoman.” And colorist Gabe Eltaeb and letterer Michael Heisler have worked a bunch of times with Randy Stradley, our editor. The results have been pure cake.
Adam Hughes was, of course, first on our wish list by a mile for “Barb Wire” covers. We decided to tell him up front that he could do pretty much whatever he wanted. Of course, he’s tearing the cover off the ball. And having Randy as editor is always great, especially now that I’m also editing him as he writes “King Tiger,” which comes out in August. He punishes me; I punish him back. Like Rock’em Sock’em Robots!
We can’t not mention the infamous Pamela Anderson movie – what’s your plan for moving past that image of Barb?
The plan is no plan: the comics are the comics, the movie is the movie. I enjoyed the movie and thought Pam did a great job — and she’s one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, so I’m a fan for sure — but the movie was quite different than the comics and went in some directions I probably wouldn’t have. But hey, that’s showbiz. I created the character and will continue to write the book as I envisioned it, so there’s nothing to move past. Readers are smart enough to judge the new series on its own merits — its awe-inspiring, life-affirming, low-carb merits.
“Barb-Wire” #1 hits stores on July 1.
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